Elections

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  • On Alex Jones, Author Gary Byrne Speculates About Clintons Murdering People (And Whether They’ll Murder Him)

    Blog ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    Former Secret Service officer Gary Byrne suggested on Alex Jones’ conspiracy radio show that the Clintons may murder him over his anti-Clinton book and pointed to “rumors of people that have had accidents” in Arkansas. Byrne also said he wouldn’t be “surprise[d]” if Jones’ theory that the administration let the Benghazi attacks happen on purpose to have Ambassador Chris Stevens “whacked” was true

    Byrne recently released the book Crisis of Character, which argues that Hillary Clinton doesn’t have the temperament to be president and invokes decades-old conservative media conspiracy theories about the Clintons (including regarding the death of White House aide Vince Foster). Media have discredited the book, finding that it’s a “rehash of old rumors,” there’s “holes in his story,” and his allegations are “contradicted by his own testimony.” Secret Service veterans have also cast doubt on Byrne’s credibility, arguing he “could never have seen any of what he claims.”

    He appeared on the June 30 broadcast of The Alex Jones Show to promote the book. Jones is a pro-Trump radio host and the proprietor of Infowars.com. He is well-known for believing in toxic conspiracy theories about national tragedies, including the Oklahoma City bombing, Boston Marathon bombing, the Newtown, CT, school shooting, and 9/11.

    Jones began the interview by telling Byrne, “I hope you don’t have any car accidents or airplane accidents or anything because the Clintons are organized criminals in my view and there’s a lot of death around them. … you’re putting your life on the line here.” Jones later added that he hopes Byrne has taken out life insurance, to which Byrne replied: “We knew what we were getting into and we’ve taken our precautions and did our due diligence. We’ll keep our fingers crossed”:

    ALEX JONES: Mr. Byrne, I hope you don’t have any car accidents or airplane accidents or anything because the Clintons are organized criminals in my view and there’s a lot of death around them. But I’m going to stop right there. Mr. Byrne, thank you so much for coming on. CrisisofCharacterbook.com, let’s go to the waterfront here. Tell us -- I mean, you’re putting your life on the line here. I think that goes unsaid.

    GARY BYRNE: Thank you.

    […]

    JONES: Well you know FBI agents that worked in the White House and others have been audited, harassed, all sorts of things have happened. I don’t want to get into speculation areas here.

    BYRNE: Sure, sure.

    JONES: But making the decision with you and your family to write this book, I mean really nobody else has the huevos to do this. Maybe one other person. I mean I’ve got to say, sir, I really hope you’ve got a big insurance policy taken out for your family.

    BYRNE: Yeah, so we knew what we were getting into and we’ve taken our precautions and did our due diligence. We’ll keep our fingers crossed.

    […]

    And it’s not just about her crisis of character. It’s a little bit about my crisis of character, too, the process of deciding to do this and putting yourself and your family at this kind of risk.

    JONES: Yeah, I can hear it in your voice. You have really put yourself at risk, folks. I hope listeners understand this is not a game.

    Byrne later pushed the conspiracy theory that the Clintons had people murdered in Arkansas. He related the story of him talking to an unnamed deputy from Arkansas, stating:

    BYRNE: The guy looked at me, I mean right through me, and he said, “Let me tell you something, Gary. These guys can spin manure into gold. Everything you hear about them is true. Believe it. And he [President Clinton] will get elected, and he’ll be there eight years.”

    And this guy was as serious as a heart attack. And then he told me all these bizarre stories about all these rumors of people that have had accidents, the stuff that you were referring to before. So yeah, I definitely think that if she gets elected that we’re going to see the crazy stuff we’ve seen for the last eight years is going to unfortunately look like a walk in the park.

    Jones told Byrne that the Benghazi attacks were “on purpose to ship the missiles to Al Qaeda,” and that the administration had Ambassador Stevens “whacked” when he refused to go along with the plan. Byrne responded that “nothing would surprise me anymore” and agreed with Jones that Clinton is “evil.”

    JONES: You’re just too honorable of a guy, brother, to see that Benghazi was on purpose to ship the missiles to Al Qaeda to take over Syria and the Turkish ambassador was there that morning and Ambassador Stevens said no, so they pulled the security and had him whacked. But I’m not going to get off on a rabbit trail, it's just that she’s way more evil --

    BYRNE: Right.

    JONES: Than I think you’re even getting at.

    BYRNE: No, well obviously she is and that’s not something I experienced, but I certainly believe that to be true. I mean nothing would surprise me anymore after what I saw those years, and what’s happened since then.

  • Even This Conservative Columnist Thinks Trump's Plan On Trade Is “A Scam”

    Steve Chapman: “It's A Scam, Skillfully Pitched To Fool The Gullible”

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX MORASH

    Conservative Chicago Tribune columnist Steve Chapman joined a chorus of media and policy experts from across the political spectrum in criticizing Donald Trump’s promise to bring back American manufacturing jobs by curbing free trade.

    Chapman slammed Trump on June 29 in the Chicago Tribune for the policies Trump outlined in a speech on trade one day earlier. Trump advocated against globalization and the lowering of trade barriers brought about by free trade deals like the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and World Trade Organization (WTO). Trump referred to his trade policy ideas as a path toward “Declaring America’s Economic Independence,” which he claimed would lead to increased economic activity that would “Make America Wealthy Again.”

    Chapman chided Trump’s simplistic look at global commerce, saying, “It's a scam, skillfully pitched to fool the gullible,” and echoed criticism of Trump from economist and Economic Policy Institute (EPI) president Lawrence Mishel. While Mishel criticized Trump for whitewashing the Republican Party’s free trade legacy and ignoring progressive initiatives that would benefit American workers, Chapman pointed out that manufacturing output in the United States is actually “54 percent higher today” that it was when NAFTA went into effect in 1994 and “27 percent higher” than it was before China joined the WTO in 2001. Progressive organizations like EPI have highlighted the negative consequences that free trade arrangements have had on the American labor market -- specifically with regard to NAFTA and China -- but as Chapman notes, part of the decline in manufacturing employment is the result of greater efficiencies in production stemming for automation and technological advances; “companies have learned to produce more goods with fewer people.” From the Chicago Tribune (emphasis added):

    The vision Trump conjures is one of alluring simplicity. He promises to achieve "economic independence" by abandoning globalization, instead using American workers to produce American goods. This change, he said, would "create massive numbers of jobs" and "make America wealthy again."

    It's a scam, skillfully pitched to fool the gullible. His framework is a house of cards built on sand in a wind tunnel. Its most noticeable feature is a total divorce from basic economic realities.

    [...]

    In the first place, the expansion of manufacturing jobs is not synonymous with prosperity. As countries grow richer, manufacturing's share of employment declines. South Korea, singled out by Trump for killing American jobs, has seen it shrink by nearly half since 1991. Japan and Germany have followed a similar path.

    But U.S. manufacturing output is 54 percent higher today than in 1994 and 27 percent higher than in 2001. Those years are pertinent because 1994 was the year NAFTA took effect and 2001 is the year China gained entry to the World Trade Organization — events Trump portrays as catastrophic for American industry.

    Manufacturing jobs have vanished not because we don't manufacture anything but because companies have learned to produce more goods with fewer people. Higher productivity is what eliminated most of the jobs Trump mourns. He's no more capable of restoring them than he is of bringing back the dodo.

    [...]

    Blaming Mexico and China for the fate of our steel industry is like blaming email for the decline of telegrams. The biggest reduction in steel jobs came before the globalization of the past two decades. The number fell from 450,000 to 210,000 in the 1980s.

    The total today is about 150,000. Even if Trump could manage the impossible feat of doubling the number of steelmaking jobs, it would be a blip in the overall economy — which adds more jobs than that every month.

  • Right-Wing Media Abandon Facts To Support Trump’s Call For Waterboarding

    ››› ››› DINA RADTKE

    Several right-wing media figures defended presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s reiterated call for waterboarding and “much worse” techniques to combat terror after terrorists carried out an attack on Istanbul’s largest airport. Journalists and others well-versed in national security, terrorism, and interrogation tactics have called waterboarding ineffective and chided Trump for proposing we “stoop to [terrorists’] level” of using brutal tactics.

  • Washington Post Highlights Trump’s Empty Progressive Promises On Jobs, Trade

    The Economic Policy Institute Wants Nothing To Do With Trump's "Scam"

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    According to The Washington Post, the progressive economic think tank Donald Trump repeatedly cited during a recent speech on his trade policy agenda is slamming the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for distorting the facts and ignoring other initiatives that would boost the economy -- all in an attempt to “scam” hard-working Americans.

    During a June 28 speech at a metal recycling facility in Monessen, PA, Trump outlined a trade and manufacturing policy agenda that draws heavily from research performed by the progressive Economic Policy Institute (EPI). Washington Post reporter Greg Sargent was first to report that EPI president Lawrence Mishel rebuked Trump’s agenda for misleading the public on globalization and wage stagnation -- by blaming our trade policies for flat wages and fewer jobs -- while ignoring progressive initiatives like lifting the minimum wage, expanding overtime protections, and increasing union membership (emphasis added):

    So it’s worth noting that the EPI — in a lengthy statement sent my way — now says that Trump’s account of what has happened to American workers in recent decades is simplistic in the extreme; that Trump is actually a lot more friendly to GOP economic orthodoxy than most observers have noted; and that Trump’s actual prescriptions fall laughably short of what needs to be done to help those workers.

    Trump boasted in his speech that “under a Trump presidency, the American worker will finally have a president who will protect them and fight for them,” and repeatedly accused Clinton and other politicians supported by financial elites of “betraying” American workers by prioritizing globalization over their interests.

    But Lawrence Mishel, the president of the EPI, sent me a critique of the speech. Mishel noted that Trump’s account suggests that only government officials — particularly the Clinton administration and Democrats who supported trade deals such as NAFTA — are to blame for flat wages. He argued that Trump conspicuously left out the role of Republicans in this whole tale, as well as the business community’s use of its power to keep wages down and erode countervailing power on the part of labor.

    As Sargent and Mishel note, Trump has appropriated a populist tone on international free trade agreements, but his other stated positions on tax and economic policy decidedly favor the corporatist right wing. The incongruity of Trump’s positions led Mishel to conclude his response by labeling Trump’s speech for what it was: “a scam.”

    For months, Media Matters has documented how media have tended to gloss over Trump’s extremist positions with a misleading “populist” veneer. According to reports, his top economic policy advisers are discredited right-wing pundits Stephen Moore and Larry Kudlow -- known for their strict adherence to trickle-down economics, their willingness to distort reality for political gain, and their rank professional incompetence. Last September, right-wing media falsely labeled Trump’s tax reform plans a “populist” agenda when it was actually a budget-busting giveaway to the rich that wilted upon closer inspection. In April, experts slammed Trump’s proposal to eliminate the national debt in just eight years as “impossible” and “psychotic.” In May, Trump was criticized for his “insane” plan to default on U.S. federal debt, and then for his “disastrous” suggestion that the U.S. could solve its long-term debt problems by printing money.

    Even in the case of free trade, Trump’s rhetoric may be populist, but experts and media critics argue that his positions are untenable. As CNN’s Ali Velshi pointed on during the June 29 edition of New Day, Trump’s attempt to solely blame the Clinton administration for jobs lost to globalization was “highly dishonest.” On the May 6 edition of New Day, CNN analyst Rana Foroohar slammed Trump’s nascent trade agenda as being “either a bad idea, or impossible.” (Furthermore, Trump’s penchant for comparing trade deals to the horrifying violence of “rape” leaves him far outside the rational mainstream of political discourse.)

    As Sargent noted, Trump’s June 28 policy speech seemed to be an attempt “to stake out positions on trade and wages that are … perhaps even to the left of Hillary Clinton and Democrats.” MSNBC political reporter Benjy Sarlin and Fortune politics writer Ben Geier both argued in June 29 articles that the speech was an overt attempt by the GOP front-runner to court supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the runner-up in the Democratic presidential primary. Trump even quoted a common refrain from Sanders’ own stump speeches during a series of attacks on Clinton, saying she “voted for virtually every trade agreement that has cost the workers of this country millions, millions of jobs” -- a claim that PolitiFact labels as “half true” at best.

    Given his previous extremist economic positions, Trump’s statements on trade -- which were chided by both the right-leaning U.S. Chamber of Commerce and left-leaning labor unions including the AFL-CIO -- seem to be born not of conviction, but rather of expedience.

  • Trump Surrogate Howie Carr Claims Trump Told Him Not To Apologize For “War Whoop”

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    According to Donald Trump surrogate and Boston-based radio host Howie Carr, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee told him “Whatever you do, don’t apologize” for imitating a Native American “war whoop” to mock Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) during a Trump rally.

    While introducing Trump during a June 29 rally, Carr, who has a long history of mocking rape victims, Muslims, Catholics, and the LGBT community, imitated a Native American “war whoop” to mock Warren whom Donald Trump has been calling Pocahontas for the last several weeks. Trump and Carr are close friends who have vacationed and golfed together at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago-Club Resort as recently as December.

    Carr wrote in a blog post that following the immediate negative coverage of his comments, Trump told him not to apologize while the two flew on Trump’s private plane. According to Carr, Trump said “You never hear me apologize, do you? That’s what killed Jimmy the Greek way back. Remember? He was doing okay ‘til he said he was sorry,” a reference to the former sports commentator and Las Vegas bookie who was fired for saying that black people were “bred” to be better athletes than whites. Carr doubled down on the comments saying he has no intention of apologizing “for mentioning the name of the fake Indian and then doing a few seconds of a war whoop”:

    ABOARD TRUMP ONE – The candidate loosened his tie and offered me some advice.

    “Whatever you do, don’t apologize,” he said. “You never hear me apologize, do you? That’s what killed Jimmy the Greek way back. Remember? He was doing okay ‘til he said he was sorry.”

    Not to worry, I wasn’t going to say I was sorry for mentioning the name of the fake Indian and then doing a few seconds of a war whoop. About an hour earlier, I had been at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, warming up a crowd of maybe 5000 Trump supporters for Gov. Paul LePage before he introduced The Donald at a weekday rally I was speaking extemporaneously when I free-associated Fauxchohantas’ name, and suddenly a war whoop seemed appropriate for the occasion.

    How many moons have I been challenging Lieawatha to submit to a DNA test? Scott Brown brought up the issue of her forked tongue again on Fox earlier this week. But yesterday it goes viral, because I’m speaking live on youtube and who knows where else on the Internet.

  • John McCain Speaks Out Against Torture As Fox News Praises Trump For Waterboarding Comments

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW LAWRENCE

    Senator John McCain (R-AZ), former POW and survivor of torture, denounced the use of torture as ineffective and counterproductive after Donald Trump advocated waterboarding and “much worse” to fight terrorism. Fox News figures praised Trump’s advocacy of illegal interrogation and pushed for President Obama to adopt similar strategies.

    During a June 28 campaign rally at Ohio University Eastern Campus, Trump called for the United States to “fight so viciously and violently” against terrorists and “fight fire with fire.” Trump also advocated for the use of waterboarding and “much worse” against enemy combatants.

    Trump had previously advocated for techniques “tougher than waterboarding” as well as proposing the killing of innocent family members of enemy combatants. In May, Trump attempted to walk back those comments by acknowledging “that the United States is bound by laws and treaties,” but has since returned to proposing policy that he once recognized would force a “military officer to disobey the law.”  

    Fox News hosts largely supported Trump’s plans for the illegal techniques. Fox’s Peter Hegseth argued that the United States “can maintain our values while still ruthlessly going after ISIS,” and Fox host Eric Bolling downplayed torture, saying “God forbid we pour water on terrorists’ faces.”

    But on June 29, Senator McCain joined Fox’s On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, where host Greta Van Susteren asked McCain about Trump’s advocacy for torture. McCain pointed out that numerous military leaders have said “that it not only doesn’t work, but it is counter-productive because you get bad information.” Furthermore, McCain argued that “it’s about us, not about them,” making the point that torturing enemy combatants is a contradiction of American values:

     

     

    On October 26, 1967, McCain, then a Navy pilot, was shot down over Vietnam, and captured by the North Vietnamese. McCain was subjected to torture by his captors, explaining that, he “was beaten every two or three hours by different guards,” and after four days agreed to write a confession.